Shelton Hatfield has been camping at Joshua Tree National Park for a week. On January 2, 2018 at noon, park rangers ordered all visitors to leave the campgrounds since they will remain closed as a matter of safety due to the government shutdown.
“People were doing a really good job of taking care of the place, it’s kind of a bummer they are closing the campground, but I’m excited they are leaving it open for day use because in the past, they have fully closed the gates,” Hatfield said.
Hatfield had to load up his van with all of his camping items because there are no overnight trips allowed. Hatfield is not alone. Christine Goss and her husband had to take a u-turn after realizing that their reservation at a private camping site is no longer valid.
“We were left with no where to camp,” Goss said. “We made reservations at an RV resort.”
Trevor Goodman was hoping to camp at the park, but also had to change his plans.
“Now, we’re just day tripping and spending the night outside the park,” Goodman said.
Cars are still pouring into the park regardless of the fact that there are no clean bathrooms and no park rangers.
Bev Mckenzie brought her daughter to the park, but she made sure she had a map to find her destination.
“It’s pretty mild up here, we’re not going to run into anything,” she said. “It’s cold, so the snakes are all buried right now.”
According to park officials, some people illegally historic artifacts, bathrooms are overflowing and trash is too much to handle. Volunteers are the ones who are taking care of the maintenance of the park, but they are still asking visitors to clean up after themselves.
Goss and her husband decided to stay at the park and enjoy the views. However, they feel frustrated about the effects that the shutdown is having on workers.
“Lawmakers make laws to make sure they are getting paid during the government shutdown, but the people who really need it are not getting paid and that is extremely irresponsible,” she said
The park will remain open for day use, but it is under each visitor’s responsibility to stay safe.